I have been writing quite a few e-mails recently and I feel that I want to expand my vocabulary regarding acceptable phrases to use both at the beginning and end of an e-mail. When I say informal, I don't mean that I'm writing to a close friend (in which case no-one cares what words I use anyway), but rather to acquaintances, teachers I'm familiar with, staff at the university and so on. So, what I'm after are Chinese phrases such as "dear xxx", "best regards" and so on.

I have searched for this online, but I find it very hard to gauge the formality level of the phrases I've found. Most of them seem way too formal and being overly polite is sometimes a way of being impolite. Therefore, I'd be grateful if people who might answer my question also include some kind of information about when and with whom they would use a specific phrase. Thank you!

  • This is a great question. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 15:08
  • 1
    This link from Baidu may be useful.
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 14:26
  • A friend wrote this in an e-mail to me just now: 敬祝 順心 [name]
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 16:38
  • In informal emails, all of these can be omitted.
    – fefe
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


Here are a selection that I have received via email from friends and family:

一切顺利 Yīqiè shùnlì - Wish everything goes smoothly

一切平安 Yīqiè píng'ān - Wish every thing is peaceful

一切好 Yīqiè hǎo - Wish everything is good

回头再聊 Huítóu zài liáo - Talk to you next time

祝你一路平安 Zhù nǐ yīlù píng'ān - (For those going on travel) Wish your trip goes smoothly / safely

保重 Bǎozhòng - Look after yourself

代我向你们全家问好 Dài wǒ xiàng nǐmen quánjiā wènhǎo - Send my regards to your family

And, even just 谢谢 or 再见

等你有空再回信 Děng nǐ yǒu kòng zài huíxìn - (Something nice to say to a busy friend) Reply to me when you have time

For the equivalent of "Dear xxx" use "亲爱的 xxx". I will leave it to others to comment on how informal the use of 亲爱的 is as I haven't used my Chinese in writing formal letters so I don't know if it is very informal or it is used in semi-formal situations like the English Dear.

  • "亲爱的" is used exclusively to address your loved ones, not anyone.
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 14:25
  • 1
    Is this really correct? I have numerous e-mails from people I have never met that open with this line. Here are two examples, the first from my university and the second from the TOP test committee: 1) 親愛的大家 2) 親愛的考生您好
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 14:33
  • 1
    No, 亲爱的 can be used widely, almost anywhere that "dear" is appropriate in an English letter. Even in business letters you'll see as many 亲爱的 as 尊敬的. In letter to elder person (e.g. teacher), 亲爱的 can be used and implies a closer relationship than 敬爱的. In letter to a friend, 亲爱的 is extremely common, regardless of gender.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 18:47
  • Also, for anyone who has used Taobao, all of the chatbots for customer inquiries say "亲". Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 22:33
  • 2
    It could be due to western influence. Traditionally, "亲爱的" isn't used loosely because it can create misunderstandings if used inappropriately, example a guy writing to a female friend. An institution using such "修饰词" in a letter is ok but on a personal level, I tend to avoid unless the person means very much to me. Unlike English letters, "修饰词" can be, and is often, omitted in Chinese letters.
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 3:24

In Chinese culture, politeness is never too much only except for between really intimate friends or lovers. Especially when getting along with an elderly person, it's a good idea to keep being formal and polite until you're completely certain that it's not necessary.

This link explains the conventions very well. To cite the essence of it,

2 .问候语




4 .结尾




When in doubt, be as polite as possible. When I feel obligated by the culture, I would simply use formulaic 您好 as 问候语 and 此致敬礼 as 结尾.

Edit: Adding translation for the citation with my editorial in parenthesis. The translation is done in a kinda verbatim way in order to preserve the sense of the culture, although it may sound unnatural in English.

2 . Greetings

Greetings should be placed on the second line ( the first line is a title) with an indentation of two spaces.

Use polite language to make the recipient feel warm and respected.

For elderly recipients, send regards to health; for middle-aged people, career and family; for a young person, love life (only appropriate if the sender is an elder to the recipient) and studying; for children, health and striving.

4 . Ending

To show politeness, use some blessing words based on who the recipient is (social status and relationship to the sender).

A general one is “此致”“敬礼” (usage similar to "best regards" in English, literal translation should be "hereby, salute"). The format convention is to put "此致" on a new line with an indentation of two spaces and "敬礼" on the next line without indentation.

People usually say "祝您健康长寿” (wish you health and longevity) to elderly people, "祝工作顺利" (wish you a successful career) to friends and "祝学习进步" (wish you good progress in studies) to the younger generation.

  • could you please add the translation of your cite?
    – noe
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 20:40
  • @ncasas, added.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 22:10
  • I was recently told (in Taiwan) that 此致敬礼 is too serious for a (casual business) email, and that saying nothing or 謝謝 to end the email was fine. YMMV
    – Kai Carver
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 12:39
  • @KaiCarver I am not sure about the conventions in Taiwan, but ending an email with 谢谢 sounds like a borrowed etiquette from English emails and we don't really do it at least in mainland China.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 22:17

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